FLINT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, participated in and viewed a cybersecurity training demonstration where University of Michigan-Flint students were shown by instructors, through a virtual hacking exercise, how cybercriminals can disrupt entire communities and how network defenders can deter cyber-attacks. Following the exercise, Peters was joined by University of Michigan-Flint Chancellor Debasish Dutta and Chief Executive Officer of GST Michigan Works! Jody Kerbyson to highlight the importance of building a qualified cybersecurity workforce. Peters also discussed his efforts to strengthen cybersecurity, including a landmark legislative package he introduced last week to enhance our nation’s ability to combat ongoing cybersecurity threats against our critical infrastructure and the federal government – such as potential cyber-attacks sponsored by the Russian government in retaliation for U.S. support of Ukraine.
“Recent severe cyber-attacks have compromised Americans’ personal information, such as credit cards and social security numbers, and disrupted essential services our communities rely on every day. These attacks continue to present a serious threat to our national and economic security – as well as the lives and livelihoods of people in Michigan and across the country,” said Senator Peters. “Today, I was pleased to see firsthand how the University of Michigan-Flint is working to support the future workers who will be tasked with defending the information technology systems of critical entities like banks, power grids, hospitals and more. As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I’ll continue leading efforts to strengthen our cybersecurity and fight back against foreign adversaries and cybercriminals who are attacking our networks.”
“I was delighted to welcome Senator Peters and our many partner organizations to our simulated hacking demonstration today to highlight the growing importance of this critical issue,” said Debasish Dutta, University of Michigan-Flint Chancellor. “Cybersecurity events like this highlight the University of Michigan’s strong commitment to excellence and student success as a foundation for a lifetime of learning. I applaud Senator Peters’ leadership to ensure our future cyber professionals are well-equipped to handle any challenge and look forward to building a strong workforce here in Michigan thanks to his partnership.”
“I am grateful to Senator Peters and everyone here today for their continuous work to develop Michigan’s cybersecurity workforce,” said Jody Kerbyson, CEO of GST Michigan Works! “Our organization knows that to strengthen Michigan’s economic competitiveness we must have a workforce of qualified and highly-skilled employees who can meet the needs of every sector of our economy – including those who defend against dangerous cyber-attacks. I commend Senator Peters’ forward-thinking leadership to ensure Michigan’s workforce can be prepared for this emerging threat.”
During the cybersecurity training event, students took part in a hacking exercise of the virtual city “Alphaville” – which is complete with a power plant, school, City Hall, library, and small businesses. Utilizing this virtual city, instructors showed University of Michigan-Flint students and Peters how cybercriminals can disrupt commerce, local government services, education, and more, as well as how network defenders can deter cyber-attacks.
As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has led efforts to increase our nation’s cybersecurity defenses. In addition to the legislation to strengthen efforts to address cyber-attacks, Peters’ bill to enhance cybersecurity assistance to K-12 educational institutions across the country was recently signed into law. His provision to provide staffing for the National Cyber Director office to improve cybersecurity policy was signed into law as a part of the annual defense bill. The senator secured several provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure law to bolster cybersecurity – including $100 million fund to help victims of a serious attack recover quickly.